Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent”. Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned books lists.
His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.
Well, well, well, Holden Caulfield. What on Earth can I say about you? I’ve only just got around to reading The Catcher in the Rye, despite in being one of the most well-known classics. It’s one of those books I feel like I have to read, you know? And I’m glad I did because this isn’t one I’m going to forget any time soon. Not for it’s impeccable writing style or it’s riveting plotline or unexpected twists but just for being what it is – cynical, different and raw. The Catcher in the Rye follows the life of sixteen year-old Holden Caulfield for a couple of days after he’s expelled from school. Written from his point of view, he gives you a glimpse into his life on those uncertain and rocky few days of his life.
I had a good vibe from this book within the first few chapters. It was easy to read and I got into the swing of Holden’s narrative very quickly. I had somewhat of a tainted view of him at first. I usually have such an affinity with messed up, adolescent main characters and their issues and I always enjoy reading about how they see the world because more often than not, I can usually understand their point of view. I was totally on Holden’s side at the beginning but as the book progresses I began to see how much more isolated and screw up this kid actually is. After a while, I wished he would just grow up and get his shit together – he has such an angry and vicious take on the world, I actually kinda felt sorry for him. I loved Holden’s relationship with his sister because she was the only living person you could genuinely tell he cared for.
If you’re expecting something mind-blowing and life-changing with plot twists and star-crossed lovers then I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to you. Not much really happens, in fact, nothing happens. As my friend Charlotte from Miscrawl nicely put it, “It really is just 200 pages of Holden’s waffle” and it is. But this book really is more about the internal rather than the external and it was so intriguing to see the world so completely through a different set of eyes. It’s a strange book… but that sonofabitch really knows how to pull you in. Nicely played Holden, nicely played.